October 18, 2016
With the school year already seven weeks in, I want to begin by thanking you for your continued support of our students, our staff and our district. We are fortunate to have such a caring and supportive community willing to partner with us to ensure that our students are prepared to succeed.
I want to update you on our building security processes and request your partnership in helping our schools remain safe place for our children and staff.
Single point of building entry: We have a single point of entry at each school building, and guests must sign in before proceeding to their destination. However, this process only works if we collectively enforce and adhere to it. We continue to remind staff and students to not prop doors, for example, and we ask that visitors from the community enter the buildings through the main entry point.
Request of parents and community: Please be sure to use the main entry to each school, and please report to us any doors that you see propped open or otherwise left ajar as you are attending meetings and events at school.
Lockdown drills and training: Another important element in the year ahead will be the practice of lockdown drills. By state directive, we must have four lockdowns in each building this year. To increase our effectiveness in response to a would-be intruder, we will vary these drills with different scenarios. We will initially prepare our youngest students for these drills so as not to frighten them, but as the year progresses, these drills will be unannounced.
Request of parents and community: Please talk with your children about the need to take these drills seriously and to report any information they might have that may lead to harm of their classmates or their school.
Changing the structure of our buildings to enhance security: Through our capital project, we plan to reconfigure the process for entry into each building. The new entries, while in the same location, will require guests to present identification via a camera prior to entering the vestibule. After entering the vestibule visitors will then submit identification through a teller-like window and sign in. Once cleared, guests will then enter the building. Surveillance cameras and card swipe entries will be added to each building so that we can reduce our reliance on keys, increase our knowledge of traffic within our buildings and keep our students, staff and facilities safer.
Request of parents and community: Continue to give suggestions and share concerns regarding our security while we await approval of and subsequent execution on our building plans.
Additional counseling staff: A critical part of having safe schools is to ensure that those individuals inside of the building are not at risk for having ill intentions towards their classmates and respective school. As we see social, emotional and mental health issues within our students, we have the responsibility to react and, where possible, plan ahead to meet their needs in the best possible way. One example of planning ahead this year has been the hiring of additional counseling staff and the realignment of existing staff to better serve our students. We have also asked our administration, faculty and staff to make additional efforts to get to know our students so as to better sense when something might be wrong and to celebrate with them when things go right.
Request of parents and community: Please take time to get to know the counseling staff in your children's schools and encourage your children to seek them out if they need help in managing their thoughts and feelings.
Finally, a note about our communications: This is an area we can always improve upon. Please take the time to review your contact information in the E-school data portal. In particular please provide your email address. We are also frequently updating our website www.cacsd.org and our Facebook page, Coxsackie-Athens Central Schools, for those of you seeking timely digital communications.
Request of parents and community: Please continue to let us know how we can provide better communication service to you. Later this fall I will be convening a taskforce to review our communication procedures and will be seeking out parent and community volunteers to participate.
Randy SquierSuperintendent of Schools